Amritsar Punjab is the spiritual and cultural center of Sikhism in the world. It also has been focal point of Indian freedom struggle. People from all over India and the world travel here to visit and enjoy the cultural & historical potpourri the city has to offer. With the weekend coming over, we had our plans set and bag ready to travel. The city boasts of jovial, helpful and hospitable people. Amritsar is also known for its rich cuisine, sacred temples, folk art and culture. In spite of its modern outlook, the city still preserves its past heritage and culture.
We booked online tickets for Volvo Bus from www.redbus.in. Let me tell you these are good network of buses, and prompt at the boarding points. The buses were comfortable and good in condition. We were supposed to board the bus from IGI Airport Terminal T3. And what better way to reach IGI T3, than the DMRC Airport Express Metro Service. The ride is a different experience all together.
The first stoppage was at Haveli for dinner. Haveli is a food lover’s delight; it offers mouth-watering experience and with a promise to make you visit again. The restaurant has great ambience, to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. The service was instant and homely.
We then left off for our tour. Since we all have been working all day long at our respective offices, we all dozed off pretty soon. The bus ride ended at Jalandhar, from where we had to board another transit-bus, which would take us to Amritsar.
We reached Amritsar by noon. We took a shared auto to our hotel. We all wanted to stay close to Golden Temple, so we had zeroed down to Hotel CJ International for stay; but once we checked more hotels around we finally decided to stay at Hotel Indus. The proximity to the Golden Temple was the biggest pro. The rooms were really comfortable and the staff was hospitable. The hotel also offers roof-top view of the Golden Temple.
Everyone was famished. We all freshened up and left hotel for brunch. We went to Bharawan da Dhaba, rated as one of best out of the many dhabas in Amritsar. The menu was filled with every authentic, rich and tempting Punjabi food options.
We binged on “Amritsari Aloo Kulcha Thali”, “Paneer Kulcha Thali”, “Parantha Thali”, “Dal Makhani”, “Chhole”, “Lassi” and “Tea”.In spite of being full house, the service was brisk, food served was fresh and hot. The atmosphere was really nice, comfortable and relaxed with a nice mix of crowd.
After lunch, we all headed towards Sri Harmandir Sahib, also known as Sri Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple. The Sikhs all over the world, pay visit to Sri Amritsar and pay obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib in their Ardas(prayers).
Sri Harmandir Sahib, is built on a 67ft. square platform in the centre of the Sarovar(tank). The temple itself is 40.5ft. square. It has a door each on the East, West, North and South. The Darshani Deori (an arch) stands at the shore end of the causeway. The door frame of the arch is about 10ft in height and 8ft 6inches in breath. The door panels are decorated with artistic style.
The main structure of Sri Harmandir Sahib, is a three-storied one. The front, which faces the bridge, is decorated with repeated cusped arches and the roof of the first floor is at the height of the 26 feet and 9 inches. On the top of this room stands the low fluted ‘Gumbaz’(dome) having lotus petal motif in relief at the base inverted lotus at the top which supports the ‘Kalash’ having a beautiful ‘Chhatri’ at the end.
“Akal Takht” or the immortal throne- The ‘Jujube tree’ or the Beri tree in one corner of the temple complex is supposed to be as old as the temple itself. It is believed to have healing powers. The four towers in the corners housing the holy book ‘The Guru Granth Sahib’. This is where the holy book is continuously read. The original copy is also kept in one of these towers. Every morning these holy books are brought from the Akal Takht in a procession and returned back every night. You might stay over at the temple to see this procession.
Guru ka Langar or the community kitchen is a prominent feature of anybody’s visit to the temple – your visit is incomplete if you haven’t eaten and participated in the community kitchen. The food is very basic with chapattis and Daal – but what is worth observing is the orderly way it is served in and consumed by anyone and everyone there. On an average about 25,000 people eat here and this increases manifold on occasions like “Gurpurab” and full moonlights.
The Golden Temple also is place where the homeless take shelter. They are provided with warm bedding and indeed a comfortable home to rest.
Our next stop was, Jallianwalan Bagh – a famous memorial & public garden inside the walled city of Amritsar.
Freedom Was Not Gifted To Us, It Was Snatched By An Unstoppable Fight,
Fighters Painted With Blood On Their Life’s Canvas, Still They Never Turned Back With Fright! – Anonymous
Amritsar was also at the forefront of Indian freedom movement. The city has witnessed the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in which peaceful group of protesters were fired, on the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald E.H. Dyer of the British Colonial Army, which left 379 dead and over 1200 injured.
One of the most touching site in Jallianwala Bagh is the Martyr’s Well, which was a well inside the garden, where young men, women & children jumped to their death in order to escape the shooting.
The bullet marks of firings can be seen on the boundary walls of the garden and also a lone building inside it. It was great to see that our historical heritage being preserved in an aesthetic manner.
Jallianwalan Bagh also has a museum inside that recite the historical events. I could not capture many picture, for photography was restricted. But I somehow managed two such pictures as an insights for you to view.
We returned to our hotel to change and freshen before we went out for Dinner. Makkhan Fish Center is a famous eatery outlet for all non-veg food lovers. You have to relish on the famous Amritsari fish and take your taste-buds to heaven. We also ordered other non-veg items like, “Fish fry”, “Butter chicken”. The fish was superb and cooked gently. For all those globe-trotters and food-o-holic, a visit to Amritsar shall never be complete without tasting the delicacies offered, by this city.
We returned to our hotel and had night plans to gossip, crack jokes and of course – play teen-patti or bluff. No body knew, who dozed off first.
Next morning was another day to explore more places in Amritsar. We woke up to visit market near the Golden Temple. And also to have our breakfast at Monu Kulche – Maqbool Road (This place opens by 10 am).
After our heavy brunch, we headed over to have lassi at a famous food joint, Gian Chand Lassi Wale, Amritsar. The glass of lassi was brimmed with skimmed milk and loads of cream and butter.
Our next stop was Wagah Border. It is the boundary between India and Pakistan, located at a distance of about 29 kms from Amritsar. Every evening a change of guard takes place on both sides of the gate amidst much fan-fare and jubilation.
You are asked to be in line to reach the sitting area. The horse riders guards that no one falls out of line and that each one stay discipline.
Before the parade, the audiences are invited to dance at the parade road.
And once the the ceremony involves military personnel marching around the path that leads to the border gate and hoisting the national flag is indeed very impressive.
The place is open to visit, however getting there earlier would ensure better seats. People throng the place to view this event taking place every evening at around 4:30- 6:00 pm.
We returned from Wagah to visit the shopping areas in Amritsar. The markets offer a wide range of products bangles, shawls , dupatta exhibiting Phulkaari embroidery, Pakistani suits, Punjabi juttis (footwear) and head scarves can be found at Hall Bazar and Kapra Market. Guru Bazar near Golden Temple is a popular shopping destination. Kirpans, swords, Kadas (steel bracelets) can also be bought in Amritsar.
After our shopping, we all went to taste street food of Amritsar. We did not skipped tasting anything. We tasted Pav Bhajji, Chowmein, Burger, Alloo Tikki Chat, Golgappe and every Indian food is so incomplete without dessert. So we had fresh-hot jalebis.
The variety, quality and taste is unmatched. You can have a full meal at reasonable price and yet there will be no compromise on the taste. The road side cart selling chholey or daal substitutes for the lunch and the fish/paneer pakoras substitute for the snacks in the evening. The city has eating out in their DNA and its not planned. And when you have people so fond of eating out, you will definitely find good food in that city
So this was our snacking and we headed over to Punjabi Dhaba for dinner. They served delicious non-veg as well as veg cuisine. The vegetarian had special Punjabi Thali, whilst the carnivores had chicken.
It was late night and we all moved back towards our. We got down at the local market near our Hotel and also near the Golden Temple. We shopped a few local food items – Papad and Badiyaan and Aam Papad – a favorite amongst people of all genre. We later went for late night visit to Golden Temple, before returning hotel to pack our bag.
We had our return tickets booked for Shatabdi Express, from Amritsar to New Delhi Railway Station.
“Sadly, there aren’t enough days in weekend. But with friends, the trip was a wagon of fun and happy times. Shared laughter was vacation and the memories made, shall stay forever in heart and mind.”